Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Inherent Vice: Michael Hawkins

 At the recent Inherent Vice Residency I spoke briefly with Michael Hawkins.

What is the average day like at Inherent Vice?

I try to make it in as much as possible, usually I come in around 10am or 11am. I settle in, say hi to everyone, and decide what I want to do for the day. I've got a major project I'm working on which is a series of inter-connected stories. I try and set some sort of goal ahead like today I've penciled up a couple of pages which was my goal to at least get done. I've got that done now and I'll see how much I can ink and so forth. The rest of the day consists of just drawing comics, chatting to the public if they pass my desk, and usual stuff like eating, sometimes going out for a beer with the guys, or whatever happens.

What has it been like having the general public walking through your studio?

It can be a little distracting from time to time. The flip-side is the fact you have people seeing what you're doing as you're doing it and appreciating your work which is very encouraging and very motivating. As you probably know from drawing comics at home it can get a bit tedious. You get sick of doing it and you just want to go do something else. You know you're not going to get that positive feedback or validation until weeks or months down the track so having that instant feedback from the public can help you keep going.

What are some of the artists and comics that interested you in making your own comics?

I got into comics when I was about fifteen. I had always been an artist and I drew cartoons as a kid but decided I wanted to be a more serious artist. When I was in high school I was really into films 'cause I had that narrative impulse and I wanted to do something like that. Thought maybe I'd be a film maker then I discovered what was coming out of Fantagraphics at the time, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, Jim Woodring, and so forth and that's when things clicked for me and I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist. 

More recently I've gotten really into the Kramer's Ergot stuff, artist's like C.F. and Dash Shaw that have more a lo-fi look and a certain kind of crazy trippy fantasy vibe. My friend Simon Hanselman is a constant source of inspiration. He's probably my favourite cartoonist out of anyone. He does the best comics I've ever seen and is always an inspiration to work harder.

What tools do you use to make comics?

I use a pacer to pencil with and for outlines I've got a special fountain pen for drawing from a Japanese site called Jetpens, fine point Manga illustration. Most people think I'm doing my comics in watercolour but usually it's with grey felt tip pens. I've got a couple of Copics which give a good flat gray. A couple shades with those and a couple with Faber Castell Pitt Artist pens which are a kind of a warm fuzzy grey. They're warmer in tone and the texture is softer and fuzzier. They last a little while but they don't keep their point for as long as you'd want them to. I use a little bit of grey water colour as well. I have another pen from Jetpens,  a brush pen that is refillable, it's like working with brush and ink except you don't have to dip. I use that for blacks and some of the stronger outlines.

Hawkin's Corey the Dweller in the Hollow has been released in a limited release run and will have a wider launch through Blood and Thunder.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nexus: The Comics Issue

In mid 2006 Nexus Magazine designer Matt Scheurich took inspiration from the recent comics issue of Vice magazine and helped produce a comics centric issue of the Waikato University magazine for their 7th August 2006 edition. The full colour magazine featured cartoons from local contributors as well articles and regular columns in cartoon form. The center pages feature of the magazine was written by Scheurich with features on the New Zealand Comics scene and interviews with Ant Sang, Toby Morris and Dylan Horrocks.

Posted with kind permission of M.Scheurich

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tim Molloy

New Zealand Cartoonist/Melbourne Resident Tim Molloy is currently working on a new comic series, Deerstalker,  describing it as a 'comedy/sci-fi/horror/noir thing'. Written by James James, a few gorgeous panels have been popping up online, keep an eye on his blog for more info.

The following article was written for Radio With Paper #4 in early 2010.

Late 2009, Tim Molloy was one of the last feature exhibitions at Gallery 696 in Melbourne, Australia. The well attended exhibition was also a launch party for Molloy's most recent comic, Saturn Returns. A combination of Comic Art, Paintings, Sculpture and Installations, the exhibition was planned a full year in advance and the work on display was filled with meticulous detail.

Reading from an early age, Molloy had Tintin and Asterix amongst his intake and started creating his own comics before adolescence. Picking up on superhero comics a bit later Molloy was also turned onto 2000AD back when it was affordable and had a rotating creative cast of today's comic superstars. Various friends introduced Molloy to Alternative comics like Milk and Cheese and he also became aware of New Zealand comics in his teens such as Andy Conlan's Strumming Teeth and the work of Willie Saunders.

A formative comic experience of Molloy's was when Auckland Legend and housemate, James James, dragged him aside at a party and threw a blanket over them for an impromptu comic creating lesson. "Look at this shit man! There's a light source! make those lines darker!" Friend Ben Stenbeck has also been a source of advice and inspiration over the years.

One of the first publishing efforts that Molloy contributed to was Poot, in collaboration with a couple friends. Set out on A4 folded into quarters, poot was distributed around Auckland with a last issue print run of 500 copies. Later Molloy contributed cartoons such as Ninja Sheep and Drunken Otter and Satan and to the Auckland Uni mag, Craccuum, and has self-published many comics in the ensuing years.


In his late teens Molloy experimented with mind altering substances and these had an effect upon his consciousness that led to him discarding what he had been doing previously and  to develop a new direction with his work. Symbolism and esoteric elements  became more prevalent. Saturn Returns like much of Molloy's recent work features dialogue rendered in an alien symbolic language coupled with surreal imagery which are all earmarks of a style, distinctly Molloy's.

 Molloy's recent exhibition showcased his work in a few different mediums, included detailed maquettes of characters from his comic work. Utilising architects molding clay he created fully painted detailed renditions of his 2d work.  Molloy uses Stabiler Artline pens and the Artline 210 medium 0.6 by Shachihata is a staple of his work, providing a great variance of line widths for a relatively cheap pen. For very fine detail he switches to .1 and .005 pens. All his line work he manipulates in  Photoshop and Illustrator. Molloy confesses the editing functions available to him via computers allow him to obsess over every corner and detail which he feels can be detrimental to getting things completed. The knowledge that the average reader will only glance at pages is no comfort when you want to make your work as good as it can be.

Like many cartoonist's before him Molloy drew early inspiration from Moebius but also took a step back from the french master to avoid taking on too much of his style. Influences come from a wide range particularly outside of the comics field with an appreciation for work by Bosch and Brugel and literary influences such as Stephen King (The Dark Tower series) and Henry Miller. Dreams and Synchronicity are also influences Molloy draws upon.

A full colour book of Mr Unpronounceable adventures was completed and planned for 2009 but unfortunately the publisher involved came askew due to the worldwide economic crisis. Hopefully this will be rescheduled for 2010. Molloy states, " The Unpronounceable stuff is kind of a throwback to a slightly more messed up me, it almost felt like at a certain point I was derailing my own life so I could come up with the feeling to be there with Mr Unpronounceable and follow him around. My brother mentioned the new stuff feels more like I'm in charge of the characters and I'm exploring the world with them whereas the Unpronounceable stuff I'm following this guy around and he's leading me into these really dark places."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Inherent Vice: Ben Hutchings

During the Inherent Vice residency at The NGV Studio in Melbourne I spoke briefly with some of the cartoonists. Every day I have visited the NGV Ben Hutchings has been steadfastly chained to his desk with drawing utensil in hand. Ben enlightened me about what he has been up to.

How has the experience of been of working in public as apposed to your normal routine?

It's been really, really, really, excellent fun. I've really loved being distracted by people instead of by the fridge or the TV. I'm sitting here in the corner in front of these gigantic glass windows, where I'm the first thing everyone sees which is a bit weird, but It's great watching all the people walk past and talking to all the people coming in. Also having the other seven guys around is really good, really fun.

Did you have a specific project planned coming into the Inherent Vice residency?

I thought I'd set this time aside to work on this comic I've thought up called 'Walking to Japan'. I thought I'd be able to finish it in the five weeks here. So I've started working on it and It's a bit over half way through so the last week is just going to be a real massive hard slog to get that comic strip finished.

You're a full-time cartoonist?

Yeah I am. I do a strip for Picture Magazine and also just do a lot of freelance and stuff like that. I pretty much draw for a living completely.

The Inherent Vice residency is a curated event, were there any expectations from the artist's taking part?

Hardly any. They just said they'd like us to come in as often as we could and they gave us a little fee so if we could turn down some work and that sort of thing. There were no real expectations. There were plans to make a book at the end of this, a collection of our work, but it's pretty loose.

What got you into comics?

I kicked off with the British stuff like Beano and all that. That kicked it off and then I tried all types of comics, mainly with the style of humour it'd be the British funny comics like Viz and things like that which I just think are really, really funny. Also art styles a lot of black n white art from the seventies, underground stuff like Freak Bros, I picked up heaps of techniques from them and its a bit hard to say where I got techniques from but a bit of Manga I guess. Mostly black and white comics from the seventies and eighties I s'pose.

Do you have a favourite part of the comic making process?

Sketching out the thumbnails is the best bit, when you're writing out the comic.

Ben mentioned Milk Shadow Books will be publishing issue #10 of You Stink and I Don't, his long running one man humour anthology. Along with the Cartoonist/Animator David Blumenstein, Ben also hosts the hilarious podcast Comic Book Funny.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Black River Chronicle

The Black River Digital Mailing List was started by Lars Crawley in 1998 with Roger Langridge's first post's subject line, "Is Anybody Out There?".

Created to host discussions on a wide range of subjects relating to the creation, production and marketing of comics in New Zealand, The mailing list is now populated by practitioners and enthusiasts of New Zealand comics all over the world.

Here's some back-story from Lars Crawley on BRD's twelfth anniversary,

Long, long ago there was a publication called Black River Chronicle that Dylan and I put together. We did this because we liked it when people wrote and talked about comics, and we also really liked our friend's comics. So we talked to our friends who made comics and then wrote about that. Sadly there was only one issue of that valiant magazine available to the public. Dylan was nearly run over by a horse and carriage on the way to the chandlers with the second issue, and in the melee the manuscript came loose and it was never seen again. Later I invented the internet and hosted something called The Black River Chronicle Mailing List on my PC. Its purpose was so closely aligned with our original intentions that a name derived from that old magazine seemed apt. Being hosted on my machine meant that it had to be running and connected to the Internet to receive and pass messages on. In the pre-broadband days this was only once in a while, so free flowing discussions were not a feature of that early incarnation. After learning about a service that allowed mailing lists to be easily hosted online I signed us up and added everyone already on the locally hosted version. We were on our way!